For the nth time, a Japanese asked me what I like most about Japan.
And for the nth time, I said, "I like the cleanliness, the safety and the order." Always in that order.
Most of the time, those who asked me would agree as I elaborate. In this occasion, I got a curious response. He said, "Do you have an OCD?" He then explained how OCD's are very much into cleaning, ensuring safety and being organized.
I haven't been diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder although I sometimes think I might have a mild case of it. All who have seen my apartment always say my place is neat. A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I have a planner showing hourly tasks. I'm time-conscious. I like following routines, making checklists and cutting my pancakes into equal parts. So do I have an OCD? I don't know.
Whether it's because of OCD or not, I love living in Japan because...
1. Japan is clean.
I read somewhere that the best way to check how clean the air is, is to check the color of your dried snot. It may sound disgusting but I think it's true. When I was still in the Philippines, I'd always have dark snots after taking public transportation. Here in Japan, they're always lighter even if I'd cycled on the main roads. (I'm sure you're checking your snot now.) Lighter snots mean cleaner air.
Aside from me having lighter-colored snots, I'm also comfortable using public toilets. I can even do number 2 because there's always tissue papers. And toilet bowls always flush.
On a less disgusting note, streets in Japan are free from trash and smoke-belchers. Parks are well-maintained. Rivers look swimmable and fish-able. Bus and train terminals are presentable. Even narrow dark alleys do not seem that dark. They also don't smell like urine.
2. Japan is safe.
It's only when I started living in Japan that I can safely take out my phone and wallet without fear of being robbed. I can go to the convenience store in the middle of the night without checking my back.
Once I left my iPhone at a public toilet. It was still there when I come to get it. I can visit places alone. My sole problem would be to ensure I'm taking the right train. I can leave my bicycle anywhere as long as it's parked on the right spot. (Otherwise, the bicycle police would get it.)
Even when my phone rings for tsunami and earthquake alerts, I still feel relatively safe since it also give directions to the nearest evacuation center. I could go on and on why I think Japan is safe. I'll just stop here.
I heard a story of a young man who lived in Japan for several months. On the day he returned to New York, he was mugged. He mentioned how he got so used to the safety in Japan, he forgot how unsafe other places are.
3. Japan is organized.
Japan is heaven for me because trains and buses are on time. I also like how people stay on one side of the escalator and how people fall in line to board the bus and trains. When there's an ongoing construction, a bunch of uniformed people help traffic the roads.
I like the little bells in restaurants to call servers so I don't have to raise my hand or incline my head or even raise my voice. I also come to appreciate the calorie count of each dish in the menu.
Whenever a big festival is happening, I appreciate how the police anticipates the traffic flow easing what could be chaos. I attended a festival in Kobe where we had to walk for about an hour because the police made a circuitous route to hold the crowd. It was inconvenient for us but I had to give it to them for that smart but simple idea.
I'm impressed with how well elementary and junior high schools are coordinated to accommodate students in their areas. I even like the similar school bell sound all over Japan. (Watch an anime with a school setting and you'll hear it too)
Are my reasons for appreciating cleanliness, safety and order here because of OCD? I don't really think so. It's a simple case of appreciating something my place back home lack. I was just considering the best things in my daily life here. Cause really, who wouldn't love cleaner snots?
How about you, what's the best things about where you live? I'd love to hear it!